Health committee to probe reported exploitation of ‘OJT’ nurses

Senator Pia S. Cayetano will lead the Senate’s very first committee hearing of the New Year on Tuesday, January 11, 2011.

The Senate Committee on Health and Demography, chaired by Cayetano, will lead a joint meeting together with the committees on finance, labor, employment and human resources development on pressing issues concerning the country’s nurses and other medical professionals.

The joint panel will take up Cayetano’s Philippine Senate Resolution No.166, which seeks to look into reports of registered nurses and nursing graduates who are being employed by certain hospitals as “on-the job trainees” (OJTs) and made to pay for their training, work experience and certification, instead of being hired as regular hospital staff.

“It is unfortunate that some of our nurses who are seeking employment overseas are forced to enter into such onerous arrangements in order to comply with the two-year work experience requirement for overseas employment,” said Cayetano.

“In their desire to get hired abroad, some nurses are constrained to work in hospitals as OJTs even without pay or for salaries below the minimum wage,” she added, while noting that OJT nurses are reportedly made to pay to pay between P5,000 to P7,000 for their certification in the course of their ‘training period’ or ‘work experience’ with the hospital which may last from 6 weeks to 8 months.

“These reported money-making schemes contribute to the problem of local unemployment and underemployment among our nurses and, if found true, is very demeaning to the nursing profession. We also need to see how these questionable practices are dealt with under the existing regulations of the Department of Health (DOH), which is tasked to oversee the operations of hospitals in the country.”

Among the main resource persons invited to the hearing are: Health Sec. Enrique Ona; Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz; Dr. Teresita Barcelo, President of the Philippine Nurses Association; Alvin Cloyd Dakis, President of the Association of Young Nurse Leaders and Advocates; Dr. Ruben Flores, President of the Philippine Hospitals Association; Dr. Rustico Jimenez, President of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines; Carmelita Divinagracia, President of the Association of Deans of Philippine Colleges of Nursing; and Dr. Leah Paquiz of Ang NARS (Nurse Advocates for Rights and Socio-Economic Political Responsibility).

Aside from PSR No.166, the joint hearing will also take up PSR No. 304 introduced by Sen. Loren Legarda which seeks to formulate a comprehensive policy to protect nurses, and various bills seeking to establish a Philippine National Health Research System: Senate Bill No. 257 by Sen. Antonio ‘Sonny’ Trillanes, SBN 1083 by Sen. Manny Villar and SBN 2029 by Sen. Edgardo Angara. #

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